Beaches

Not the first thing you imagine when you think of Bangladesh, but this surprisingly diverse country boasts a handful of decent beaches along its Bay of Bengal coastline, including the world’s longest.

  • St Martin’s Island Soak up the beach-holiday vibe circumnavigating Bangladesh’s only coral island without stepping off the sand.
  • Kuakata Kuakata has a natural feel to it with just wooden fishing boats and washed-up coconuts.
  • Cox’s Bazar The world’s longest unbroken natural sand beach (125km) pulls in punters by the beach-bucket load.

Ruins

Kingdoms and religions have come and gone throughout Bengal’s long and chequered past, leaving ruins scattered across the country, particularly in the northwest.

  • Paharpur Bangladesh’s stand-out archaeological relic, this Unesco-protected site was once the largest Buddhist monastery south of the Himalaya.
  • Puthia Ancient Hindu temples and crumbling rajbaris (Raj-era mansions) dotted around friendly, tree-shaded villages.
  • Sona Masjid Discover half the scattered ruins of the lost city of Gaud (the other half is in India).
  • Old Dhaka The narrow streets just north of the Buriganga River contain fascinating vestiges of the city’s colonial past.
  • Painam Nagar A charmingly decaying street of dilapidated hundred-year-old mansions in the former ancient capital city of Sonargaon.

Markets & Bazars

Markets come in all shapes and sizes in Bangladesh, from the huge city-centre clothes bazars of Dhaka to small riverside markets found in pretty much every town.

  • New Market Dhaka’s largest market sells absolutely everything. If it’s not here, it’s not in Bangladesh.
  • Banga Bazar Dhaka’s bargain-bucket clothes market. Don’t expect high quality, but do expect some haggling marathons.
  • Bangshal Rd Old Dhaka lane where the capital’s multitude of bikes and rickshaws are made, decorated and repaired.
  • Rakhine Market This friendly, colourful market in Kuakata sells textiles handmade by the descendants of the area’s original Buddhist settlers.
  • Rajbari Island Stalls Just a row of stalls where you can buy textiles woven by the Chakma people of the Rangamati region.

Boat Rides

Taking a boat trip is a quintessential Bangladesh experience, but with more than 700 rivers and around 150 different types of boats, where do you begin? Here are some ideas:

  • The Rocket Climb aboard this early 20th-century paddle-wheel steamer and romance your way along the rivers of south Bangladesh.
  • Sundarbans Head deep into the extraordinary Sundarbans on a four-day boat ride with a quality tour company.
  • Kaptai Lake Enjoy the splendid scenery and the awesome expanse of Rangamati’s massive artificial lake.
  • Sangu River Securing a boat ride along this stunning river is challenging, but the reward is exceptional natural beauty.
  • City Rivers Hop on a rowboat at the main ghat of any city and simply cross to the other side. Try Dhaka’s Buriganga River.

Hiking

Bangladesh isn’t all as flat as a rice paddy. The hills to the east, in Sylhet and Chittagong, offer some excellent hiking.

  • Hum Hum Falls Remote waterfall, deep inside the monkey-filled Rajkandi Forest Reserve; an adventurous day trip from Srimangal.
  • Boga Lake It's a two-day round trip from Bandarban (permits permitting), including a four-hour hike each way to the lake, where you can overnight.
  • Mt Keokradong One of Bangladesh’s highest peaks, and probably its most climbed; a three-day round trip from Bandarban (permit required).
  • Mowdok Taung The country’s highest peak borders Myanmar; you’ll need a good guide and a permit to make the seven-day round trip from Bandarban.

Wildlife

The human-eating tigers of the Sundarbans steal the headlines, but Bangladesh has plenty of wildlife besides.

Royal Bengal tiger The Sundarbans National Park has the world's largest single population of tigers – have fun trying to spot one.

Hoolock gibbons Bangladesh’s only species of ape is sometimes spotted at Lowacherra National Park around Srimangal.

Elephants Visit Bangladesh's small population of wild elephants in the forested hills of the Teknaf Wildlife Sanctuary.

Birds The hard-to-get-to haors (wetlands) in northwestern Sylhet are a magnet for domestic and migratory bird species.